It’s a question debated in comic book shops across the country: With his mutant healing factor and adamantium claws, could Wolverine beat up Captain America? In a box-office fight, at least, Wolverine is the favorite to come out on top -- and crush “Godzilla” while he’s at it.
Wolverine’s latest outing, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is expected to open with $100 million this Memorial Day weekend, according to prerelease tracking numbers from the Hollywood Reporter, with some estimates as high as $125 million. Those projections are higher than the $95 million opening of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which, if met, would make “Days of Future Past” the biggest film of the year so far.
Not all of the numbers for the seventh X-Men film are hypothetical: Movie ticket marketplace Fandango announced in a press release that more than 90 percent of the company’s Memorial Day weekend sales came from advance ticket purchases for Fox’s “Days of Future Past.” Of course, that ratio won’t hold up across the entire weekend -- who feels the need to pre-order a ticket to the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore rom-com “Blended?” -- but it shows strong buzz for the superhero epic.
All that buzz must be encouraging to 20th Century Fox, which produced "Days of Future Past" with a budget of more than $200 million. A strong opening is a must.
If the projections are accurate, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” won’t just be the biggest film of 2014, it could be the most successful X-Men film of all, reinvigorating the franchise for years to come. The series had its biggest take with 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which grossed $234 million at the domestic box office with a $102 million opening weekend -- even though it’s now regarded as one of the worst films in the series.
X-Men films have been less successful in recent years: The two latest, the 2011 prequel “X-Men: First Class” and 2013’s Hugh Jackman spinoff “The Wolverine,” were the lowest-grossing of the series, bringing in only $146 million and $132 million, respectively. Neither performed as well as the the first “X-Men” film, which in 2000 introduced the characters to an unfamiliar audience and brought in $157 million.
Fox appears to be banking on nostalgia for earlier X-men in the latest installment, which reunites the original blockbuster “X-Men” cast of Halle Berry, Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen for the first time since 2006’s “The Last Stand,” along with “X-Men” and “X2” director Bryan Singer. And thanks to a time travel plot, “Days of Future Past” also pairs the original X-Men cast with prequel characters from “First Class” to create an action-packed tribute to the past films.
Based on prerelease reviews, Singer’s approach should pay off in more ways than one. With a 91 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, critics agree that “Days of Future Past” represents the best elements of the often-shaky X-Men franchise. If it meets the box office projections, we can expect to see many more X-men sequels in the future.